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José Fonte’s swift return with West Ham to St Mary’s to provoke mixed response

The former captain’s uneasy departure will ensure a frosty reception in some quarters but it is different from a return such as Saido Berahino’s to West Brom

It is almost exactly two years since the former Southampton centre?back Dejan Lovren first returned to his old stamping ground with his new club, Liverpool, and was greeted by chants of “You’re just a shit José Fonte”. Fonte was a Saints idol back then, a model stalwart who helped marshal the club’s rise from League One to the Premier League. But on Saturday he, too, will return to St Mary’s as an opponent following his acrimonious defection to West Ham in January. How will he be greeted? Will he be told he is just a poor version of his younger self?

“It’s a really difficult one to read,” says Steve Grant, the owner of the Southampton supporters’ site SaintsWeb.co.uk. “There’s obviously no doubt that he was a superb player for us but the manner of his departure seems to have put a lot of people’s noses out of joint. As a result I suspect the reception he will get will be quite frosty, though I kind of hope it isn’t.”

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